As you enter Long Grove Confectionery's production facility the aroma of warm chocolate fills the air. Conveyor belts move pretzels, popcorn, toffee and many other items to be covered in layers of chocolate.
You get the impression it would have made Willy Wonka proud.
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The 85,000-square-foot factory in Buffalo Grove produces more than 1 million pounds of chocolate a year. All the molds are hand painted. The chocolate is hand packed and shipped throughout the country.
The company employs 75 full-time workers, about 120 employees over all.
"There's a lot of work that goes into a piece of chocolate before you get to eat it," says Ann Holterman, human resources manager. "Now is our busiest time of the year producing for Christmas, Hannukah and Halloween," Holterman says. The facility always works a season ahead.
Workers at the original location, in historic Long Grove, still hand dip the strawberries they're so famous for.
The chocolate itself comes from Blommer Chocolate Company in Chicago. Most of it comes in warm tanker trucks then it's pumped into the Buffalo Grove facility. "It smells real good here when they are unloading the trucks," Holterman says.